- Published on Friday, 20 January 2017 14:15
2016 saw their UK overtake Putin's Russia in defence spending top ten, according to Janes Defence Weekly by way of Bloomberg Markets
The British military news media have claimed for years that we, the UK, punch above our weight. Whether this is true or not, Austerity Britain pays dearly and it’s getting more expensive, despite claims that we are/should be living within our means.
And why is the fact that Russia has slipped to number 6 in the military spending charts not making the headlines? Possibly because it is not in the perceived interests of NATO or the Russian Government to advertise the fact.
We may not be ‘punching above our weight’, but Russia does. Of course the foundation of this is Russia's huge nuclear stockpile. It's very expensive, economically crippling in fact, hammering the standard of living of ordinary Russians. Consequently the Russian government manufactures consent for that very spending, enthusiastically assisted by our own government and NATO. This can take the form of goading NATO. A good illustration are the Russian flights down the North Sea, always near but never in UK airspace using very big, very photogenic but almost obsolete planes. NATO plays along with this by sidling up to the Russian bombers with equally photogenic and increasingly ruinously expensive fighters.
Public services in Russia (where they exist in a country that spends at least 5 times more of its GDP on their military than Britain) and public services in "Austerity Britain" have to suffer for these greater priorities. Of course these set piece events over the North Sea have nothing to do with anyone’s national security. They are first and last fundraising exercises for two military institutions, the Royal Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Force respectively..
The rest of the 2016 military spenders top ten chart makes interesting reading for other reasons. China is number two at $192 Billion. However when compared to the USA's $622 Billion it isn't in the same league. The USA is in a league of its own, though so too is China, as the UK's $53.8 billion is way behind.
In fourth place is rising India on $50.7 billion closely followed by, Saudia Arabia, on $48.7 Billion, then comes Russia on $48.3 Billion.
The French come in at $44.3, followed by Japan at number eight, this despite the fact that there is a pacifist clause in Japan’s constitution.
(Based on the original text of a letter by Bill Ramsay published in the National 30th December 2016)